Cliff’s dad has been a Law Enforcement officer for more than 25 years. He has often taught Cliff how to protect himself from theft, so he wrote in to share his best tips with us. As we enter the Fall season, it becomes apparent that the Holidays are not far off. While they are a fun and heartwarming time for most, it is also the season with the highest robbery rates. As stores become cluttered with Christmas shoppers, and mall parking lots fill up with people eager to get the hottest items, thieves see a great opportunity. The holidays tend to make people more lighthearted and, unfortunately, more complacent with their security measures. Try try and help all of our community members keep themselves – and their belongings – safe, here are Cliff’s tips.
The car – Though most people know the standard car security tips such as to lock your doors and park in well lit areas, there are several mistakes that most everyone still makes. First, never leave anything with any imaginable value within eyesight in your car. This includes any gadgets such as iPods, cell phones, or GPS units. Also, be sure to remove goods such as cigarettes and CDs. Though they may seem somewhat useless to a criminal, addicts or people desperate for money will find any object to sell and will go through nearly any means to get said objects.
Purses, Wallets, etc. – Pick-pocketing, though it seems like something that could never happen, is actually quite an issue. I have been a magician studying the art of sleight-of-hand for over two years now, and can assure you that there are millions of people across the globe with the ability to steal from you right under your nose. Thankfully, there is one fool-proof way to prevent this, at least for us guys who carry wallets. Never, EVER place your wallet in your back pocket. Though this seems a standard place for most guys to carry it, it is a pick-pocket target. Nearly every method used for pick-pocket theft applies to the back pocket. However, by carrying your wallet in your front pocket it makes it nearly impossible for a thief to lift it, especially without your knowledge. Possibly the biggest target in this type of theft are women with purses. Though I highly advise woman to just carry a wallet when shopping, especially during the holidays when stores are crammed, I know some women will not even consider not carrying a purse. Very well, carry it, but at least know how to carry it. Never, ever simply sling your purse over your shoulder. This makes it very easy for a criminal to snatch and run off. Instead, put the purse over your shoulder and then tuck it under your arm, sort of locking it into place. Not only does this make it harder for a thief to grab it, but also lets the prospective purse-grabber know that you are a strong woman, simply by the way you are carrying yourself. Also, be sure to always have your purse zipped up at all times. Several times I have stood next to my mom, removed her cell phone without her knowledge, and then handed it to her in an attempt to get her to make herself more secure. While she has not taken my advice, I surely hope you do.
Trust no one – While the holidays seem like a time of love and joy, there are many people who use them for their own advantage. Therefore, it is important to be very alert and aware of other people. Here are just a few example situations to avoid:
Never give your camera to someone so they can take a photo of you unless it is someone you know and trust. This is for fairly obvious reasons.
Never give out your personal info to any salesperson… ever. When you make a purchase somewhere, you are not obligated to give your address, though they may ask for it. While it seems like standard procedure, you never know who the salesperson really is or why they actually want your address. Think about it, they see you buying an expensive item in their store, and then they have the address for where this item is going. They also know that the holidays are busy and people are frequently away from home. Bam, you’ve made yourself a target.
Avoid door-to-door salesmen, especially if you are home by yourself. Once again, you have no idea who these people really are, but you are opening the door to your home, sometimes inviting them straight in. Even if they don’t try to do anything at the time, they now know a general layout of your house and have seen some of the items inside, ready to be stolen. They might also ask when a good time to “come back” is, leaving you open to say when you will not be home. Once again a seemingly benign situation has made you a target.
On my birthday, $450 worth of iTunes gift certificates were transferred from my account to someone else’s, on account of my account being compromised. I logged into my PayPal and sent in a report. My request for my money to be returned was denied by PayPal. Mesiox sent in some tips for all of us, to hopefully help us keep our PayPal accounts safe.
The first thing, it all starts with a clean computer system. A computer system with viruses or keyloggers may be the cause unauthorized people to be inside of your PayPal account. Use security programs on your computer.
Make sure the site you are in is the verified PayPal site, and not a Phishing site. You can check this out by checking the domain name in the browsers url bar. You should see PayPal’s actual site address, and not something else.
Don’t keep large amounts of money in your PayPal account, because people can easily send your money to other accounts in a blink of an eye if they gain access to it. Instead of keeping it on PayPal, keep it inside your bank account.
Check your Paypal history on a daily basis. This way, you can stop money from being transfered if you see it happening when and where it shouldn’t be.
This may be common sense, but use a strong password! Use a mixture of lowercase, uppercase, symbols, and numbers. Make it harder for a hacker to guess to begin with! Reading this post by Chris may help.
When you’re buying something with PayPal, be sure to check that the site you are on is secure. Do this by checking the url bar. The site should contain “HTTPS”. This will help you determine if the site is fraudulent or not. You can also do research on Google about certain sellers that you may not be sure of.
Shop with well-known companies who have established a good reputation.
My biggest piece of advice to you if something does happen, is to be vocal about it. Tell your story. The more times and places you tell it… the more people will hear and pass it along.
On my birthday last Saturday, I received a “present” I wish I never had. Due to some lax security policies that Apple has thankfully since updated, someone was able to use my birth date to obtain my iTunes password, and get into my account. They then managed to use that information to give themselves a nice little gift of $450 worth of iTunes gift cards… courtesy of my PayPal account.
Apple has worked with me to straighten this out on their end. As far as I know, they have since made some changes to their password retrieval process, which is an excellent thing. Of course, that doesn’t get me my money back.
So, I turned to PayPal, and opened a case in their Resolution Center. I followed all of the necessary steps, and provided them with complete information. The wait then began for me, checking my PayPal balance daily to see if my $450.00 was back in my account yet.
Tonight, I received an email from PayPal’s lovely Resolution Center.
We have completed our investigation of your claim and have determined that this is not an instance of unauthorized account activity. At this time, your claim has been denied. Through careful research, it has been determined that the correct course of action would be to cancel the Preapproved Payment Agreement from your Profile. The merchant will be notified of this change and will no longer be able to make charges to your account.
Wait, what??? “This is not an instance of unauthorized account activity”. What the HELL are they thinking? My password was obtained illegally. My money was taken without my consent… again illegally. How exactly can they determine that this was not an instance of unauthorized anything?! This is complete insanity. Apparently, PayPal is so focused on making money for themselves that they cannot be bothered to care when ordinary people like you and I lose ours via illegal means.
Seems to me the answer to the problem is simple: ISPs should be proxying known phishing sites. I’d make it an “opt-out” toggle, as only people know know what they’re doing would be crazy enough to actually want to view a known phishing site. That’s the key: being able to identify a phishing attack. I suppose this has proabably been done before, but I haven’t seen a widespread deployment of such a service (which should be free, IMHO).
Certainly, it shouldn’t be a browser’s or plugin’s responsibility – as connectivity is the lowest common denominator. I’ve got the Phishing setting toggled “on” in my OpenDNS configuration, largely because I don’t want Ponzi to be phished when I’m not around. This way, I’m protecting all the systems on my home network – not just the ones that have been upgraded to the latest browser configuration. Phishing should NOT be a problem anymore.